A Facebook status update that I recently put up got a lot of people talking and filled my inbox with a lot of messages from people who engaged me in further dialogue on the topic. The status update was as follows:
My dad gave a speech, both in Gabs and in Mahalapye [cities in my home country of Botswana] at my brother’s wedding. To paraphrase what he said, he said that a man has an obligation to himself, his family, his community, his country and God to marry.
He is in his 60s so obviously with the younger generations, this is not always a firm belief.
Personally, I don’t disagree with him. Families, wealth, traditions and legacies are all built with strong, solid marriages as their foundations.
When we throw away marriage and family we might as well start preparing for the worst. I completely understand that my perspective is colored by my upbringing and experience but as much as I try, I fail to see why we (especially Black people) would want to throw away marriage and family structures.
Even as I write this, I know that it is almost inevitable that some will misconstrue what I am saying to mean that being African (or from Botswana) is somehow “better” than being African American. Just to be clear, that is not what I’m saying. What I am saying when I say “Africans need to go back to Africa” is that Black people need to embrace basic values such as family, marriage, culture and tradition, the way that Africans generally do.
Having been raised in Botswana and then spending the last 16 years living in the U.S., I have observed that there are some glaring differences between the Black people in Botswana and other African countries compared to Black people in the U.S. Obviously, we can not paint all Africans with one brush anymore than we can paint all African Americans with one brush.
Having said that, I can say that what I see is a lot of people in America who have given up on each other and no longer desire or are no longer hopeful that they can get married and build a family. The sad part is that strong marriages and families are the very way in which many people can overcome many of the social ills that plague many Black people in America.
When men and women form healthy partnerships in marriage, they do a better job of raising successful children and they also do a better job of building wealth, or at least not falling into the trap of suffering from poverty that is passed down from generation to generation. The list goes on, in terms of the benefits for children who are raised in two parent homes, including, but not limited to, better results in school, less vulnerability to crime and a decrease in teenage pregnancies.
I’m not unaware nor am I being insensitive to the fact that much of the condition of the Black community is a result of deliberate actions that were taken to keep Black people in a state of lack, poverty and dis-empowerment. Having lived in the U.S. most of my adult life, I am not unaware of the many ways that racism and other forms of prejudice rear their ugly heads. Even so, I think we, as Black people living in America, would do well to be proactive about overcoming our many hurts, beliefs and conditioning that lead us to believe that we are unable to build healthy families and communities.
I am an African (Motswana), married to an African American so I will forever be a part of both the African community as well as the African American community. I urge my African brothers and sisters to hold on to our valuable cultures and traditions and preserve our marriages, families and values. I also urge my African American brothers and sisters to “go back to Africa”, not in the literal sense but in the sense that we need to remember who we are. We are powerful and our power is magnified when we build rather than separate, fear each other or just scatter.
We can build legacies and wealth and that is passed on from generation to generation but we have to start with the basics; we have to build a culture of love, respect and a willingness amongst ourselves and we have to model that for our children and their children.
Nomalanga is a Life Balance Expert. Her speaking and coaching programs help busy women who struggle to balance Marriage, Motherhood and Money-Making™. She is an avid blogger and a sought after instructor and speaker.